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Newsletter - September 2007


Wet! Wet! Wet! A pop group? No! - geo trips!

Good news is that the Nant Ffrancon trip is now ON again this coming SundayÖ See the Outdoor Events page for details and then contact Jane Michael. The bad news is that the NW Highlands trip is OFF as the leader has to go to NamibiaÖ.. Jane does her very best for us but she has been defeated by the elements and circumstances!

Please contact Jane also if you have any interest at all in the trips next year.

Jimís super indoor programme kicks off on 10th October with John Nuddís lecture on the Green River formation. We have invited members of SMEGS, the Manchester University student geology society, to attend our first indoor meeting to encourage closer links between our societies.

John Nudds' and Paul Seldonís book on North American Fossil ecosystems will be on sale at Johnís lecture on 10th October.

Fred Broadhurstís Climate Change seminar on November 10th is being supported by the Paleontological Society and will be their Baldwin Lecture.

With best wishes to all
Mary Howie, newsletter editor

PS Some of the items ARE the same as last time..
Thatís because they havenít happened yet!

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Important Messages from Jane Michael

*2008 Outdoor Events*

I am already planning next year's events.


As already mentioned, John Nudds has offered to take a week long trip to Solenhofen. This will happen during the last week in May (ie May Bank Holiday/Half Term). Please could you let me know if you are interested.
This is an expression of interest only at present but if there is no interest then there is no point in me spending any more time on it!

*Isle of Man*

I am also considering a long weekend (Friday - Monday) in the Isle of Man in October next year. Again I am looking for expressions of interest so that I can take forward investigating accommodation, travel and confirming with the proposed leader (who led for Leeds last year) that they are willing to do the trip again.

*Scunthorpe Steel Works*

This trip is likely to take place during a weekday evening in the early part of next year. We would be joining an organised trip which currently happens on Wednesdays starting at 6 pm (fully booked until nearly the end of this year when I asked in March!). Would this be of interest? Please let me know if it would, and whether this start time is ok together with the fact that it would be a working day.

Jane Michael or 0161 366 0595

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Membership matters

Since the last Newsletter we have been saddened to learn of the deaths of three members: Past President Tony Browne; Allen Jones (Full) and Ken Rout (Correspondent for N Staffs G Soc). Another Full Member, John Gittens, has moved to Scotland.
On a happier note we are pleased to welcome David Julian as a new Full Member.

Fred Owen, Membership Secretary

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Magnetic field shifts at Manchester Airport

Being involved in aviation I couldn't resist responding (at the risk of telling members what they may already know!) to Peter Loader's news in the last Newsletter about changes in runway direction at Manchester Airport.

Members will know that a magnetic compass does not point towards the true (or geographical) north pole. It points towards the magnetic north pole at some angle west or east of true north. At present in the northern hemisphere the magnetic north pole lies about 11.6 degrees south of the geographical north pole at about longitude 104.3 degrees west. The angle between true and magnetic north is known as magnetic declination or, in aviation, as magnetic variation.

Aircraft navigate using a magnetic compass and the direction of airfield runways is designated according to the magnetic north pole and not the geographical north pole. Hence one of Manchester's airfield runways has been designated 24R/06L i.e. 240 degrees [westerly] and 06 degrees [easterly]. (R and L mean Right and Left runway . Up to recently these directions at Manchester represented approximately 3.5 degrees west magnetic variation.

However, magnetic variation varies from place to place. For instance, in our region on Anglesey it is 4.5 degrees west and at Hull 2.5 degrees west. Moreover it does not remain constant but changes slowly with time, locally at a rate of 7' (decreasing) per year. Hence, after several years it becomes necessary to change the designation of the runway and at Manchester this has meant changing 24/06 to 23/05. Of course, it is only the designation hich changes, the runway remains the same!

The northern runway is the original runway built in 1941 when it was only 3000 ft long. When the second runway was built a few years ago, R and L were added to the designations.

Where does the geology come in ? Well, our editor Mary's concern about what is going on below Manchester's airport is well founded since it is the fluid motion in the earth's outer core which causes the earth's magnetic field to change slowly with time.

Derek Brumhead

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Report of a field trip to the SW Scottish Highlands

Niall Clarke has written a report of a field trip to the Ballachulish area, SW Scottish Highlands, organised by Bristol University, which took place in June. See the Photo Gallery also.

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North West Geologist

Don't forget to select your best photo of a geological feature in the north west and send it to the NWG Editor, Wendy Simkiss, to adorn the front cover of the next issue to be published in Q2 of 2008. Further details can be found in Issue 13 or from me.
Fred Owen

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Geology courses for the public at Manchester University

Unravelling the Rocks of the British Isles - Dr Christine Arkwright
8 Wednesday afternoons 1.30 - 3.30 pm starting 10th October 2007 - course code SE 112 A 07

Geological structures in the British Isles - Paul Aplin
6 Thursday evenings 6 .30 - 8.30 pm starting 11th October 2007 - course code SE 115 A 07

Volcanic Rocks under the Microscope - Dr John Wadsworth
7 Saturday mornings 10 am - 1 pm starting 3rd November 2007 - course code SE 113 A 07

Interpreting Geological Trackways - Amanda Edwards
6 Wednesday afternoons 1.30 - 3.30 pm starting 6th February 2008 - course code SE 133 W O7

You can contact the CCE by telephone on 0161 275 3275 to ask for a brochure of their many interesting courses, download one from or email:
For details of the geology courses speak to Dr Alison Scott tel. 0161 275 5592 or email:

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